Humanities Center records
- probably mid-to-late 1960s
- Humanities Center (Corporate Entity)
Conditions Governing Access
All collections are closed except to office of origin or original owner until processed. University records are closed for 25 years from the point of creation.
Conditions Governing Use
0.62 Cubic Feet (4 items)
Biographical / Historical
The germ of the Humanities Center consisted in discussion and planning between members of the university's humanities departments and the university administration (especially then-president Milton S. Eisenhower, who enthusiastically supported the proposed Center) in the early 1960s; the Center saw its first full academic year in 1966-67. This period corresponded to a moment of intense excitement about structuralist thought. The Center's founders were very much in touch with this primarily European current of thought, and sought to establish a focal site for structuralism in the US on the model of the "sixième section" of the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris (which, in 1975, became independent to form the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) or the Institut für Soziologie at the University of Frankfurt under the direction of Theodor Adorno. The Humanities Center fulfilled this role with éclat: the conference held in the fall of its inaugural year, "The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man: The Structural Controversy" brought the champions of European thought together in the US, and continues to be cited as both the substantial introduction of structuralist thought into the American academy, and an important moment of transition between structuralism and post-structuralism (particularly Jacques Derrida's paper delivered at the conference, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences"). Furthermore, Derrida was a regular guest in the early years of the Center, as was Paul de Man, who held a regular appointment there for several years.
This early model of exchange and innovation, at the institutional, national, and international levels, has been sustained. From its beginning, the Humanities Center has provided the university with a robust program of visiting scholars, professors, and lecturers. The Center's connections with centers of thought elsewhere, such as Paris, Hamburg, Berlin, Strasbourg, and, more recently, Amsterdam, not only facilitates intellectual exchange and affords an opportunity to bring international scholars to the Hopkins campus, but also affords faculty and students crucial opportunities for research abroad. Within Hopkins, the Center has served as a sort of testing ground for various university ventures; for example, courses in film studies, which has since become an independent program at Hopkins, were first pioneered in the Humanities Center, with faculty borrowed from other institutions. The Center's flexibility in terms of content has enabled it to make a unique contribution to the university's undergraduate course offerings: the Center consistently offers both "core" courses (e.g. great books) and some of the most innovative and original thematic small-group seminars available to undergraduates, including courses on genocide and trauma, Russian literature, Jewish philosophy, modernist art, the city of Baltimore, 20th-century German political thought, and philosophies of time.
Scope and Contents
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Part of the Special Collections Repository
The Sheridan Libraries
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA